Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)
CWLA seeks to provide an online resource of any and all material of the Civil War relating to Louisiana with a special interest in the war in Acadiana in southwest Louisiana.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Watson Artillery Off to War

Below is an article from the New Orleans Bee about the departure of the Watson Artillery. This battery of six guns served its career in the Western Theater and fought at Belmont, Shiloh and Port Hudson. Following the Siege of Port Hudson the battery ceased to exist (its remaining members having been merged into a Mississippi battery).

The Best of Times.....

DEPARTURE OF THE WATSON ARTILLERY - Impressive Scene - Last evening the swift packet Mary T bore away from our city five score of its most gallant young men to fight the battles of their country. The parting of husband, brother, lover, son and friend, amid a concourse of thousands of deeply interested people on the wharf, and under such circumstances, where many, perchance, of those whose hearts, then bounding with high spirits and patriotic ambition, were speaking their last adieux to their native city, was a scene which those who looked upon can never forget.

The volunteer artillerists came together in Lafayette Square at four o'clock, and they were quickly surrounded by a large crowd, which grew in proportion until the square was nearly filled. Soon after the four city companies that had contributed members to this corps from its ranks, filed into the square one after another. The Second Company of Chasseurs-a-Pied, Capt. Mellour; the Second Company of Orleans Guards, the Chasseurs du Bayou and the Orleans Voltigeurs. Now the crowd swayed to and fro as the friends of the brave young men pressed their way forward to grasp them by the hands and bid them God-speed in their tour to the North. At half-past four the line was formed, the men all falling into their places, and the route of march was taken up down St. Charles street and up Canal to the upper steamboat landing.

The order of procession was as follows: Band of Music, Volunteers of the Watson Flying Artillery, in citizens dress or in the uniforms of the companies they have belonged to previously, marching by sections. The Chasseurs-a-Pied, with the field flag, the Chasseurs do Bayou, The Second Company of Orleans Guards, the Orleans Voltigeurs.

Everywhere along the route the volunteers were encouraged by the throngs of our citizens who flocked the streets to see them off and give them final greeting, but it was on the wharf, opposite the steamer that the greatest crowd was collected. Already the Mary T was invaded by hundreds who determined to go up to Carrolton on her that they might have the very last opportunity of speaking with their friends. The packet Grand Duke, moored just above, was also invaded by those who sought to give the last cheers of encouragement, while the entire way to the Mary T was blocked up by tearful ladies and interested men.

Finally the cortege arrived, and the volunteers were dismissed for three minutes to say good-bye. The scenes of leave-taking, the hurried kisses and embraces, the warm clasping of hands, the whispered adieux and messages of love are not for pen to describe. The three minutes lengthened into ten, but at last came the sharp clanging of the bell and the sonorous "all aboard" and then the splashing of the wheels as the noble steamer with her noble band swung gracefully down the stream.

Now the artillerists ascended the hurricane roof and crowded the guards, the last hawser was let loose and as the packet drifted down upon the current, there came from her decks one long, rousing cheer, full of hope, courage and devotion. Ere it died away upon the ear it was answered by a shout from the wharf that rose through thousands of lips direct from thousands of hearts. Then came cheer upon cheer, boat answering to shore and shore to boat, while hats, kepis, and muskets waved in the air and handkerchiefs fluttered in the breeze. The engines gathered way, the Mary T ceased her backward course, then slowly surged ahead, and finally steamed past the wharf in gallant style. The cheering and the waving increased, only subsiding when the volunteers had got out of hearing, while many of the more enthusiastic followed up in vehicles.

Thus did the gallant Watson Artillerists leave the city of their birth and homes. That they may return with unfading laurels and undecimated ranks is the fervent prayer of every true heart they left behind them.

-The New Orleans Bee

August 13th, 1861

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Coppens' Zouave Battalion

Coppens' Zouave Battalion
Lt. Colonel George Coppens (seated) and brother, Captain Marie Alfred Coppens.Image sold at auction on Cowan Auctions, for $14,375